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Come Get Your Super Mario T-Shirts, Cookies, And Phones In This 1990 Nintendo Retailer Catalog

NES boxes

1990 was a hot time for Nintendo and its retail partners.  This was the era when the Nintendo Entertainment System was king, when a third-party licensee could slap Mario on just about any consumer product to earn a healthy profit, and when games like Boomer's Adventure In Asmik World and Wall Street Kid were positioned as the next big thing.  I remember those crazy days, but if you're too young to have been around for them, then you can vicariously experience the thrill of laminated wood displays and cartridge storage kits with the Official 1990 World of Nintendo Buyers Guide provided by Video Game Ephemera.

The Official 1990 World of Nintendo Buyers Guide was a custom-publishing project aimed at Nintendo’s retail partners, which included more than 6,000 locations with special “World of Nintendo” areas reserved for Nintendo-related products. The article on page 6 describes this type of installation as a “store within a store,” a neighborhood mecca for Mario maniacs.

In the pages between the product listings, you’ll find short articles about certain Nintendo licensees as well as paid ads from some of them. The articles are actually labeled as “advertisements,” so they were obviously paid for as well. Many of the ads speak to consumers, but several of them are written for the people who sold the games. It’s fascinating to see the soft-sell tactics employed by game publishers as they tried to convince retailers to carry their products in the early ’90s. Most of them promise “aggressive” advertising campaigns and dealer support while extending friendly invitations to visit their booths at the Consumer Electronics Show.

This guide and others like it are a peek behind the curtain at the layer of middlemen between Nintendo's licensees and your local retailer down the street.  I remember seeing plenty of these Oakcasestore displays in the Kmarts of my youth when I longed to scarf down the licensed cookies and collect the cards and wear the t-shirts bearing Mario's smiling face.  Nintendo was hot, Nintendo was king, nothing could ever possibly knock Nintendo off its pedestal.  Nope, not at all.  The days of officially licensed cartridge storage cases made of oak will last forever!  Actually, those oak cases do look pretty sweet.  I bet they'd look right at home next to my classic oak VCR cassette storage case.  Not all family heirlooms are impressive or valuable.

Explore The Wonderful World Of Amiibo

KirbyFor as popular and successful as Nintendo's amiibo figurines have been in both the fan and collector markets, it seems that few people who own the toys know the extent to which they can link them to all kinds of video games for the Wii U and 3DS.  Yes, the Super Smash Bros. link is well known, but did you know that the amiibo can unlock extra functions in games such as Chibi Robo: Zip Lash, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, and Kirby and the Rainbow CurseNintendo's messaging needs work, but fortunately the Internet is here to help.  A Twitter user going by the name MoldyClay has put together a massive compatibility chart to spell out which amiibo which work which games and what functions are unlocked when linked together.  From Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. to Mario Kart 8, this chart has it all in one easy-to-read place.  As of this writing, it's up to version 9.0.

As an amiibo owner (I own a dozen of the figurines ranging from commoners like Smash Mario to the hard-to-find Ness), I appreciate this chart to keep track of what I can do with the games I own.  I enjoy amiibo functionality.  That said, what I do not enjoy is that amiibo for characters can split into multiple product lines and one version of a character may not unlock the bonus that another version does.  For example, I own the Smash Bros. Kirby amiibo.  I can use this Kirby in Kirby: Planet Robobot for the 3DS to unlock a hard-to-find Smash power-up for Kirby.  However, only the recently released Kirby amiibo from the new Kirby line of figurines unlocks the exclusive UFO power-up.  I know Nintendo wants to sell me as many amiibo has humanly possible, but buying two Kirbys just doesn't sit right with me.  Kirby should be Kirby regardless of his shape (especially as older amiibo go out of production; it's been a while since I've seen a Smash series Kirby on a store shelf).

Power Button - Episode 208: E3 2016 Wrap-Up

Power_buttonAs another Electronic Entertainment Expo fades away into the sunset, it's time for our annual recap of memorable E3 moments.  Blake Grundman and I are joined by our old E3 pal Ross Polly to discuss Microsoft's Project Scorpio, Levar Burton's excitement for Star Trek: Bridge Crew, Crash Bandicoot's return as a Skylander, Norman Reedus and his Norman fetus in Hideo Kojima's Death Stranding, the Stargate connection in the new God of War, Nintendo's unveiling of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and oh so very much more.  We have an absolutely supersized episode for you this week clocking in at over two hours long.  Grab a drink, settle in, and enjoy.   Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, subscribe via iTunes, toss this RSS feed into your podcast aggregation software of choice, and be sure to catch up on past episodes if you're joining us late. Remember that you can reach us via , you can leave a message on the Power Button hotline by calling (720) 722-2781, and you can even follow us on Twitter at @PressTheButtons and @GrundyTheMan, or for just podcast updates, @ThePowerButton.

The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild Changes All The Rules

The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild

Nintendo's campaign of extreme secrecy has whipped up fan fervor again as by the time the curtain went up on today's E3 announcement for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, everyone was ready to finally see what the creative team had cooked up this time.  Showcasing a ruined Hyrule where technology had made progress against magic, a slumbering Link awakened in a mysterious chamber and was sent out into the untamed wilds of the E3 demo.  Check out this trailer to see what everyone is talking about:

I'm intrigued by the new additions to the Zelda formula.  Link's weapons and clothing have RPG-style statistics attached to them, he can only regain health by finding and eating food, basically everything in the environment is interactive in some way (burnable grass, choppable trees, etc.).  The traditional eight or so dungeons have been scaled down to a mere four with dozens of smaller puzzle shrines filling the gap.  They added a dedicated jump button!  There's so much potential here for something new and engaging.  Maybe I'm just not in the E3 zone this year because while I like what I see here and am looking forward to playing the game when it releases next year for Wii U and NX, I can't say that it rocked my world or that "2017 seems so far away!" or any of the other usual E3 game preview boilerplate we writers use to pad out word lengths when running on a deadline with little sleep.   I'm not interested in getting caught up in the online debates about whether or not Link should be female this time or if the E3 demo region is too empty or if the changes to the formula will Ruin Everything Forever.  I don't want to analyze every single frame of the trailer and gameplay videos.  All I can say is that I like what I see, Hyrule looks like a fun place in which to get lost, and I will happily show up to play the game whenever it's finished.

Power Button - Episode 206: Turn The Lights Out When You Leave

Power_buttonVideo Game consoles burst into this world with a collection of highly publicized launch titles, but nobody ever promotes their game as the last title out of the gate before production moves on to the next generation.  Everyone remembers that the Nintendo GameCube debuted with Luigi's Mansion, but what was the final release for the system?  How did the Super NES wrap things up?  Who turned out the lights on the Sega 32X?  On this week's episode of Power Button, Blake Grundman take a walk down the weedy, unkept side of Memory Lane to discuss the final releases for some of the industry's most beloved or infamous consoles.  You know you want to find out how the Atari Jaguar folded.  Join us for an hour and be sure to turn the lights out when you leave.!  Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, subscribe via iTunes, toss this RSS feed into your podcast aggregation software of choice, and be sure to catch up on past episodes if you're joining us late. Remember that you can reach us via , you can leave a message on the Power Button hotline by calling (720) 722-2781, and you can even follow us on Twitter at @PressTheButtons and @GrundyTheMan, or for just podcast updates, @ThePowerButton.

Wario's Creators Explain His Purpose

WarioNintendo's villain / anti-hero Wario has gone on to fame and fortune of his own, stepping out of Mario's shadow to star in the Wario Land and WarioWare franchises, and while we all know how he started out in 1992's Super Mario Land 2: Six Golden Coins when he stole control of Mario Land, debate has continued to rage regarding his true origins.  I'm not talking about the fiction here; I'm directly asking: why was Wario created?  A developer interview with SML2's creators originally featured in the game's official strategy guide has been translated and posted at Shmuplations, and it sheds some light on the issue.

—What was the idea behind Wario?

Kiyotake: We imagined Wario as the Bluto to Mario’s Popeye. The truth is, we kind of came up with the idea of the name first, and everything else came after. Since he was a “warui” (bad) guy, he should be Wario. And we had the idea to flip the M upside down. To our surprise, the idea was a big hit with everyone on the team.

—What was your process for creating the character of Wario?

Kiyotake: Whenever I had the idea for a character—not only Wario—the first thing I would do is talk it over with Hosokawa. If he thought it was cool, I’d present it to the rest of the staff. Then, once I thought the idea could work, I’d discuss the details of the sprite animation and movement with Harada. That’s the process I went through for Wario and all the other characters in SML2. Granted, there were a lot of direct rejects, or characters that no one took a liking to.

—Can you tell us about Wario’s past/origins?

Kiyotake: There’s been a rumor going around the Wario was childhood friends with Mario, but it’s just a rumor: I don’t know if it’s true or not. His favorite food is crepes. That much seems true…

There we have it, straight from the source!  Heroes need villains, and while Mario already had Bowser to contend with at this point in history, creating a Bizarro-version of our favorite plumber allows the Super Mario games to play with conventions more directly than Bowser allows.  Consider the end of SML2 when Mario and Wario finally meet face to face and the latter uses the same power-ups that the former has been using all game long against him.  The game's internal logic not only suggests that Wario can use the Fire Flower and Carrot, it demands that we see it happen.  The interview suggests that Mario is fighting for himself for the first time in SML2, but the plot goes deeper than that.  He's not only fighting for himself, he's also fighting a reflection of himself.  Now we jump through a mirror, darkly.


Power Button - Episode 205: Favorite Fresh Features

Power_buttonThe current generation of consoles have introduced multiple new features and refined capabilities introduced last generation, so it's only right that this week on Power Button we discuss our favorite of those features.  Share buttons, live streaming, YouTube sharing, screenshot capturing, off-TV play, backward compatibility, Remote Play, and much more!  Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, subscribe via iTunes, toss this RSS feed into your podcast aggregation software of choice, and be sure to catch up on past episodes if you're joining us late. Remember that you can reach us via , you can leave a message on the Power Button hotline by calling (720) 722-2781, and you can even follow us on Twitter at @PressTheButtons and @GrundyTheMan, or for just podcast updates, @ThePowerButton.

Fans Fill Metroid Void With New Creations

Samus AranMetroid fans have been waiting a while for a proper follow-up to Metroid Fusion and Metroid: Zero Mission, but with the franchise's focus on the 3D Metroid Prime titles and the upcoming spin-off Federation Force, it seems that the lack of classic 2D-style Samus Aran adventures is going to go on for a while more.  Not wanting to wait it out, several people have put together complete reworkings of 1994's Super Metroid for the Super NES to turn it into new games.  NeoGAF member Boney has put together a list of the best new Metroid adventures and invites further discussion about them.

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past 20 years, you should know that the original Super Metroid is widely considered one of the best videogames of all time and for good reason. A masterfully created open ended map overhauled from it's predecesor, with an emphasis on exploration and acquisition of significant power ups. The strong design was accompanied by the creation of a believable ecosystem, gorgeous spritework, wonderful music and too many memorable moments to mention here. It's widely considered the best game in the franchise and every game since then has diverted itself mechanically or design wise to the beauty that is Super Metroid.

So to satisfy you guys before some of you lose it due to deprivation, I invite all of you to be part of GAF plays: Super Metroid Hacks, in which we can find solace in wonderfully designed games made by passionate and talented community that is the Super Metroid scene. These guys have been going strong for over a decade and they show no signs of stopping, making more and more progress and pushing what is thought to be possible to build when handed the keys of the game itself.

There's some interesting stuff happening here.  Normally I'm not a fan of underskilled gamers proclaiming that they will make the true Metroid 5 or the real Sonic X-Treme or what have you, but in this case I think that the creators of these Metroid projects have something special happening.  There's actual game design talent in action here.  Super Metroid Redesign tampers with gravity and rebalances Samus's abilities.  Metroid Super Zero Mission is built for sequence breaking.  Metroid: Ice Metal focuses on a non-linear design and encourages exploration.  Nintendo will eventually take Metroid back to its roots, but the fans can fill the void until then (and more power to them as they do).

Speed Through The History Of F-Zero

Nintendo's beloved racer F-Zero attracted a lot of attention when it debuted with the Super NES in 1991, and over the years the various sequels for the Nintendo 64 to Game Boy Advance and beyond have turned heads thanks to the sense of immense speed and break-neck turns.  Hardcore Gaming 101 explores the history of the series including several installments that never left Japan.  For instance, there's a expansion kit for F-Zero X that includes additional racing cups, a track editor and a kickass remix of Mario Kart 64's famous Rainbow Road track.  There's even some information on unofficial versions of the series for the Sega Genesis and PC.  Here's a bit of the section on the Satellaview-exclusive semi-sequel, BS F-Zero Grand Prix.

The SNES game was simultaneously the first and the last Western players got to see of F-Zero for eight long years. In Japan, however, Nintendo revived the brand for their Satellaview program already in 1996 with the BS F-Zero Grand Prix. Each of the four broadcasts consists of one cup, but the game is structured a bit oddly. Before each race starts, there is a practice round and a demonstration of a specific tip for the course. The parts were played as timed SoundLink broadcasts with added commentary and arranged versions of the music (different from the jazz album).

The four iconic F-Zero cars were replaced with new alternatives that have a more fancy look and shuffle the stats around a bit, but fulfill the same basic roles within the game. Even though later entries in the series greatly expanded the roster of competitors, these four vehicles never returned. The tracks are mostly the same, but they're arranged a bit differently and there is one new course in each cup for a total of 19 (Mute City I is repeated once in the last broadcast). Some of the new courses mix up the familiar elements in unique and interesting ways, but there's nothing categorically new here.

I've always enjoyed the F-Zero series despite being basically terrible at it.  I even tracked down the rare arcade release, F-Zero AX, in a secret arcade hidden away at Walt Disney World several years ago.  Fans have begged for a proper new F-Zero since the earliest days of the Wii, but word on the street is that poor sales for the GameCube's F-Zero GX and a lack of consensus within Nintendo on where to take the series next have held back new installments.  Still, if Star Fox (another Super NES title meant to show off new technology and a series thematically linked with F-Zero through fun character references) can see a sequel post-GameCube, I'm sure there's hope for F-Zero yet. 

Power Button - Episode 204: Disney In-finish-ity

Power_buttonBlake Grundman has a problem.  He's invested a lot of time and money into collecting Disney Infinity figurines and video games and now Disney has canceled the entire product line.  He needs some time to air his grievances and openly weep, so on this week's episode of Power Button we hold a farewell for the biggest Toys To Life product that somehow didn't make enough money.  Also, knowing that Disney is going back to licensing its properties to other publishers again, we pitch some ideas for Disney-owned properties we'd like to see become new games.  A dream is a wish your heart makes (unless you fail to turn a profit).  Download this week's episode directly from PTB, listen with the player below, find us on Stitcher, subscribe via iTunes, toss this RSS feed into your podcast aggregation software of choice, and be sure to catch up on past episodes if you're joining us late. Remember that you can reach us via , you can leave a message on the Power Button hotline by calling (720) 722-2781, and you can even follow us on Twitter at @PressTheButtons and @GrundyTheMan, or for just podcast updates, @ThePowerButton.